Monday, 18 February 2008

PostHeaderIcon The stream of silent silky time

Good evening blog. Although it appears I've been too lazy to update, I actually have about three drafts on the go. They are about identity, politics and the Japanese 'media'. They were a bit on the heavy and whinging side so I've decided not to post them just yet. Plus, I'm sure people prefer reading the stories about my misfortune of dying in fake tsunamis etc

I am writing this entry tonight to take advantage of the good mood I have been in recently. It's much more easier to find the motivation to write when you're angry rather than happy. The main reason I am in a cheerful spirit is because I can walk again. I got my cast off on the 8th February but I was unable to walk for a further week after that. That was a bit of a let down but the doctor said my break was quite bad so it's going to take longer to heal. It's still a bit dodgy but I've been bandage free since Saturday and I'm almost back to normal. The doctor on Friday was really nice and explained things to me in English which was a nice change. I could tell the nurses were impressed and as he was being nice to me I waited until they came back and was all "Oh wow your English is excellent" in Japanese.

I certainly won't miss spending my Friday afternoons sitting in the waiting room surrounded by dying 90 year olds. I saw a sad sight the other day when an old couple (and I mean old) were sat across from me. I could tell they were exceptionally poor as a lot of people in my rural prefecture are. The older woman was obviously ill and in quite a bit of pain. The thing that struck me was that the old man was just as fragile as she was yet he was trying his best to look after her. It was touching and tragic at the same time. Anyway, who cares about all that right? I can walk again and I won't be going back there anytime soon (hopefully). I will miss the receptionist I had a crush on though but I prefer my leg.

I often find English phrases on notebooks, tshirts and in this case a clock. They always strike me as being very profound.

I don't think I've been up to anything particularly interesting in the last few weeks so I'll just talk about this weekend as I can remember it. Actually, to begin with last Thursday... I watched Gone With the Wind at David's house in Yasuda. I only went for a bit of socialising really but ended up watching the whole thing. It went on forever, I hated all the characters in it along with the romanticised view of slavery but I'm glad I watched it. I didn't do much on Friday other than hang out with Andrew/Noah before getting a taxi home to bed. I then slept in on Saturday morning instead of going to Kochi City for the 'Genki Musical'. All the foreign folk in the prefecture do a musical in Tosa-ben (local Japanese dialect) and use the money to send Japanese kids off to schools in America. I was too tired to get up for it though, I'll probably help with lighting/sound if they need me. At about 2pm I decided to see how my car was doing as the engine was dying before I broke my leg. Luckily it appears it was only the cold temperatures that messed it up as it worked like a dream. One of the lights goes dim at night but I kick it before I start the car and it works perfectly. I love my crappy wee car.

I spent that afternoon walking about the city and doing a touch of shopping. I bumped into a few other foreigners before meeting up with Andrew and Noah for some tataki (local speciality) for dinner. I decided to tag along with Andrew later that night as there was meant to be a night out in the city. Noah had to go back to Tano as his 3rd grade were performing a play in English which he was part of. I was planning to go and watch but since I'd been stuck in my apartment for about 6 weeks I looking forward to going out. For some reason I just thought it was Noah's class doing their separate thing but it turns out this was a big elementary shindig with lots of performances. Of course, not one person actually told me anything about anything and now I look like an uncaring waster. I can't actually believe that not one of my teachers, colleagues or students (not that I'd really understand) even mentioned this to me. I bet they all discussed how I wasn't there though. I didn't participate in the town event last Sunday either so they'll hate me even more. Although, to be fair... it was a marathon. It didn't stop someone asking me if I was running in it despite having my cast off the day beforehand. I'm going to learn the Japanese tomorrow to ask them about the elementary thing though and let them know that someone needs to actually tell me. Although... it did kind of work out well for me because I got to go out and have fun with a clear conscience (at the time).

There was an 'international night' held in Nankoku on Saturday that I was thinking about going to but forgot. Somehow... that evening I ended up catching a lift in the chartered bus back to Kochi City. Apparently they had all been waiting on Andrew and I but I was fairly oblivious to this when I hobbled on. Andrew then left with some of the girls and I kind of strolled on in a fairly jolly mood. I was greeted with quite a few people looking at me in sheer disgust. Oh deary me... the daggers in their eyes were sharp. I suppose I did hold the whole thing up and caught a freebie lift from a party I was too lazy to attend... and they were all smart whilst I had a scruffy beard and an open can of beer. I didn't know though so they can naff off. I ran and hid at the back with the friendlier people who then all agreed (fairly) I was a miserable bugger when I had a broken leg.

The bus then took a really long journey to the city so my hold-up didn't look so bad and we ended up in this small pub with some acoustic music. I had fun talking to a few people, got a few drinks in me and even talked a little bit of Japanese for once. Everyone then vanished apart from my friends Joey, Nish and Lachlan. We tried to find a club but they were all empty (on a Saturday night boo) so we went to karaoke. I felt exhausted and eventually crashed at my friend's house in Nankoku as I usually do (uninvited as usual). I woke up in the middle of the night with a cat on my chest. I didn't know it was in the room and shot up thinking "what the hell is that?". I had some good banter going on with Nish and David the next morning before I headed off to buy some boring stuff like socks, towels and bedsheets. The night out was a bit average on paper but I needed it as I was starting to get a bit crazy out here in Tano.

I set-up this picture to capture my last walk to school with crutches. I was on them for another week in the end...

Last night and this evening I have found great joy in the ability to clean my apartment. I like living in a clean environment and I've been unable to do much these past few weeks. Also, I managed to change three(!) light bulbs that had recently blown without electrocuting myself. No more peeing with the aid of a torch for old Hanta. Success all round then. Also, I spent about £20 worth in the foreign food store yesterday and have been eating expensive chocolate and drinking tea like a king.

Yes, so today was a damn fine day all round. I could cycle to school this morning and all the staff were going "Hey! Your leg!" and I replied with "Yes! It's great". All my classes went really well too and I was in happysuperfun teacher mode for the whole day. I was learning loads of new Japanese and testing them out on my English teacher too. Also, I got a belated box of chocolates from some of the women (or redeesu as the katakana English read) in my junior high office. Valentine's Day in Japan differs slightly because it's only the women who are meant to buy stuff for the men although there is a new day on March 14th called 'White Day' where some men buy gifts. It's all a big commericalised fantasy of course dreamed up by some blokes in suits. Anyway, the women in the office are pretty much coerced into buying chocolate for every male. I think it's a bit unfair frankly but I got some which was nice. I liked it because they all presented it to me in a giggling manner and I reacted in a very shy sort of way. Anyway, they didn't need to give me it but seemed to want to and I thought it was really nice and appreciated it unlike all the 'courtesy chocolate'. I'll need to read into 'White Day' to see if I can buy them all something in return without it meaning I want to marry them. My advanced English class gave me some chocolate last week too with a nice little note saying they liked my class.

I reckon I'm just about done with this update. I find it really boring writing about myself in this manner but I guess I need to keep people up to date with my life. I'm going to finish off my other entries once I read over them and make sure I'm not being racist. I was going to mention I was planning on reading over my dissertation on Valentine's Day as that marked a year since I completed it. I've not been able to bring myself to read it again as the whole experience was so traumatic. It's interesting that the period of woe this year (January-February) coincides with a similar period of sheer misery this time last year. I don't think I've ever put so much effort into anything as I did with my dissertation. In the end I got the best mark in the entire History department (at Glasgow University I might add) with 97.5%. Yeah, I basically mentioned it to boast about it but I don't care because I slaved over old Islamic texts into the wee small hours. I'm the best historian in the whole world.

I took this picture the morning I finished my dissertation. I'm so dramatic sniff

I'll end in a juicy nugget of information that I've only told Noah and Andrew until this moment. When I was writing my dissertation about a year ago I got really hungry at about 3am in the morning so headed off to the Co-op for some studying fuel. My tenement flat was right next to all the shops so it wasn't that far of a journey. Just before I reached the entrance of the supermarket this sinister looking fellow approached me and the alarm bells started ringing in my head. It is at this point I would like to add that growing up in the west coast of Scotland has led me to developing a sixth sense when trouble is arising. I knew exactly how the situation in front of me was going to unfold and I knew sprinting wouldn't have been the best option as he looked like the sort of chap who would give chase for little reason... like a stupid greyhound chasing a stuffed rabbit.

"Gie's yer wallet" the man said to me. Without thinking twice I handed it over and expected him to accept this as a symbol of my submission to his obviously superior stature (ie a possible crazy drug addict with a knife). As I stood there in the rain... stripped of my masculinity I contemplated how hungry I was going to be. This struck me as a strange thought as I was facing a man who would happily stab me given the circumstances. The man opened my wallet and seemed disgusted to find I only had a £5 note. He actually looked at me with an ounce of pity I think. He took the note out and glanced at it for a split second... I'm not sure why he didn't just leave. "Is tha' aw ye huv?" he asked me. As always in these circumstances, I resorted to my more working class accent and replied with a deep "Aye". This floated in the air for a few seconds when I said something that still surprises me to this day. "Can I... like... err... have my driving license back?". I'd always thought to myself that if I was in this situation then I'd just hand everything over and shut the hell up. However, I was honestly sleep deprived and seemed to think this was a perfectly logical question. I could see no possible economic gain for him whilst it would be a lengthy hassle for me to get a new one.

Surprisingly, he quickly stuck the note in his jeans... handed me back the wallet and walked off in the opposite direction without saying a word. The incident left me feeling hungry and annoyed more than anything else. Rather than wishing to faint or call the police I just wanted to buy some Jaffa Cakes and go to bed. It's a good story to tell though eh? I never told anyone because I was a bit embarrassed and my mum might have found out and got herself worried. Don't worry mum! I'm not in Glasgow anymore and don't really want to go back. Hurrah for Japan.


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About Me

I am a 24 year old Scotsman currently teaching English to Japanese schoolchildren. I live in a small town on the east coast of Kochi prefecture.